James Patterson calls Amazon's practices 'a national tragedy'

Patterson criticized Amazon's practices while accepting an award for being an Indie Champion at Book Expo America. 

Wilfredo Lee/AP
James Patterson said of Amazon's practices, 'It sounds like a monopoly to me.'

Another bestselling author has spoken out against Amazon.

Writer James Patterson accepted the Indie Champion award at Book Expo America in New York City. Patterson received the award for his plan to distribute one million dollars to indie bookstores. 

During his acceptance speech, the author called Amazon’s business practices “a national tragedy,” according to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness.

“Amazon seems out to control shopping in this country,” Patterson said. “This ultimately will have an effect on every grocery and department store chain and every big box store and ultimately put thousands of mom and pop stores out of business. It sounds like a monopoly to me. Amazon also wants to control bookselling, the book business and book publishing… If this is the new American way, it has to be changed by law if necessary.”

Patterson’s speech comes as the dispute between the online bookselling behemoth and publisher Hachette continues. The two were reportedly involved in negotiations when Amazon first delayed shipping on certain Hachette titles, then took away the ability of customers to pre-order some of Hachette’s upcoming books. 

Several indie booksellers recently spoke at BEA about how they had put the funds they received from Patterson to use. Patterson announced his program to distribute one million dollars to indie stores last September. In order to receive some of the money, said the author, stores just needed to have a children's section, be "viable," and write to him about how they would use the funds.

Karen West, director of events and conferences for California bookstore Book Passage said during BEA that the staff used their Patterson money to buy a van for events and a new sound system, which they installed in place of the "dilapidated old sound system from a '70s Bay Area band" they'd been using, according to Shelf Awareness. Meanwhile, Florida store Books & Books, which coordinates with schools to bring writers for visits, said staff purchased titles by authors who were visiting the schools and left the books for the students who couldn't buy the books otherwise. 

"It's made a world of difference," staff member Mitchell Kaplan said. "We get letters from kids and schools thanking us and Mr. Patterson. It makes kids feel empowered."

According to Shelf Awareness, Patterson said at BEA that he'll distribute another million dollars to indies "if there's more need."

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